Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Circles, Stars, and Diamonds (Qwirkle)

Shapes have rained down upon the board, and connections come and go as easily as the tide.  You move this way and that, hoping to find a connection that other have missed, that will give you the points to take the lead.  That is what you find, that buried in the board is just what you hoped to find: A Qwirkle.

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Qwirkle is a tile based game for 2 to 4 players.  The object of the game is to match similar tiles of color and shape and have the most points at the end of the game.

SET-UP:  Each player begins with a hand of 6 tiles that are kept secret from the other players.  All other tiles are kept hidden either face down or placed into a bag as the 'deck'.  Turn order is decided by whomever has the longest set of tiles of either matching color of all different shapes, or matching shapes with all different colors.  No tiles matching the exact shape and color may be counted.  The first player begins by playing their longest set face-up in a row or column.  The player turn ends, and is given 1 point per tile.  All players must draw from the 'deck' so their hand is back up to 6 tiles.

Image result for qwirkle

PLAYING:  The next player may play any amount of tiles that share either a color or shape to the current tiles on the board in any 1 direction.  No tile may repeat in color and shape in any line, and plays must be played only in 1 direction.  Points are then given to the player, with 1 point per tile played, as well as 1 point per tile from the connected line.

EXCHANGE:  If a player cannot or does not wish to play, they may instead trade any non-zero amount of tiles into the 'deck'.  This action ends their turn.

QWIRKLE:  If any player manages to make a line of 6 tiles on their turn, they get a Qwirkle, and a 6 point bonus on top of their current points.

ENDING:  Play ends when a player successfully plays all their tiles when the 'deck' is empty, preventing the players from refilling their hands.  The first player to do so will gain a 6 point 'Finish First' bonus.  All points are then tallied, and the winner is the player with the most

CONCLUSION:  Qwirkle is a simple game that can be played by most people.  Kids can play it because it isn't limited by reading, just colors and shapes.  Most adults can play it because it is incredibly simple, if restrictive to certain types of color blindness.  The barrier of entry is pretty low, making it a great game to introduce to people who don't play a lot of tabletop games outside of stuff like Dominoes, Monopoly, and Scrabble.  I can definitely recommend this game for those looking for a more relaxed atmosphere.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

But I Didn't Bribe the Deputy (Sheriff of Nottingham)

It says here you have 4 loads of cheese coming in.  Yet, I could swear there's a certain smell of Paprika and Basil coming from your cart!  Yes, that is certainly Basil I smell.  Why are you sweating so much, what else do you have to hide?!  You cannot hide anything from me, I am the Sheriff of Nottingham!

Image result for sheriff of nottingham game

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Sheriff of Nottingham is a social bluffing game designed for 3 to 5 players.  The objective is to successfully get various goods, both legal and illegal, past the Sheriff and rack up more total money than every other player to win.

SET-UP:  Each player begins with 6 Goods cards and 50 gold.  Two discard piles are created in sets of 5, and 1 player begins as the Sheriff.  Rules are altered slightly with 3 players, with all cards with "4+" taken out.

MARKET:  Each turn begins on Phase 1, the Market Phase.  Each player places up to 5 cards in their hand in their colored bag.  Players then draw back up to 6 cards.  Players may draw from either the deck or the top of the discard pile.

BAGS:  Phase 2 has all players who are not the Sheriff place 1 to 5 cards into their bag.  Phase 3 has all players than announce the exact amount of cards in their bag.  They then announce only 1 type of legal card, which are highlighted in green.  However, any card may be placed into the bag, regardless of matching the players announcement or type of card, as long as the amount is accurate to the players number.

SHERIFF:  Phase 4 is the Inspection phase.  In this phase, the current Sheriff can investigate any amount of players bags. Players may also offer coins, cards from their Merchant Stand, or future promises in exchange to avoid looking in their bag or to look in another players bag.  Cards in a players hand cannot be traded.

THE REVEAL:  If the Sheriff has ignored or returned a players bag, they reveal all legal goods and place them under their Merchant Stand board in the appropriate places.  If the Sheriff has looked into a players bag, and they were telling the truth, the Sheriff must pay equal to the Penalty of all cards, located on the bottom right.  If, however, the player was lying, then that player must pay the Sheriff the total penalty, and all goods not declared are placed into either discard pile.  Then, any goods that were truthfully declared are placed under the players Merchant Stand.

GAME END:  The role of Sheriff is then passed to the next player, and the Market Phase begins again.  Once all players have been Sheriff twice, the game ends.  Players then add up all points on their cards in their Market Stand, located in the top right, with their coin total.  Players with the most amount and second most amount of a legal good also get a bonus, located on their Merchant Stand board.  The player with the most points wins.

CONCLUSION:  Sheriff of Nottingham is a great bluffing game.  It has a solid framework and relies heavily on bluffing, long term strategy, and reading people.  It starts out a little overwhelming at first, but once you can get into the groove, you can start learning about people.  My only problem with it is that it takes so much thought process that I end up feeling exhausted afterwards, so it's a once a week game for me.  With so many bluffing games being created recently, this is one I can say that will keep me coming back again and again.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

They Come to Play, but They'll Never Last (Pokemon: Master Trainer 2005)

So, you think you've become a Pokemon master?  You've collected all 16 badges, and managed to defeat two versions of the Elite Four?  You've managed to capture all 256 from both the Kanto and Johto regions?  Well, my friend, there's a whole new world for you to explore, with a brand new group of Legendaries and new ways to battle.  Now, let's see how you do in the Hoenn region, and see if you are truly a Master Trainer.

BACKGROUND:  In 1996, a set of Japanese RPG video games, titled Pokemon Red and Blue. were released and later translated to English.  It instantly became a huge success, and spawned a cartoon series, a Trading Card Game, a few various spin-off games, as well as various direct sequels to the game.  In time, the cartoon itself grew and had the main character travel to the new locations from the games.  Pokemon Master Trainer is set within the Advanced generation of the cartoon series, which focuses on the Hoenn region

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Pokemon Master Trainer was developed in 2005 for 2 to 4 players.  The object is to move along the board, collecting various cards and Pokemon Chips.

SET-UP:  Each player is represented by a trainer token, with characters from the cartoon.  Then, each player begins with 3 Pokemon cards and 3 items cards.  Finally, each player is given Pokemon Chips, or PC's.  The object of the game is to collect the most amount of PC.

MOVEMENT:  Each player spins the spinner and moves that many spaces, then applies the space they landed on. However, if you spin a 0, you do not move nor do you get the effect of the space you landed on.  Spaces can gain or lose CP, encounter Pokemon or events, draw item cards, and battle various players.

ITEMS:  Item cards are used to enhance your Pokemon's BP, or Battle Points, or increase your spinners number for movement or capturing Pokemon.  You cannot use Pokeballs when you directly battle another player or a Gym Leader. Also, you are only allowed the use of 1 item per turn.

CAPTURE:  In certain spaces and events, you can encounter and capture various Pokemon from the past 3 generations, from Bulbasaur to Salamence.  You select a Pokemon from your team, and have it battle a random Pokemon from the deck, or one from the discard pile.  Then, after playing a card, you and the player to your left spin.  You add your number to your Pokemon, the opposing player adds it to the one your attempting to capture.  In the case of ties, both players spin and compare.  If your number is higher, or you spin a 10, it is yours.  If it's lower, or you spin a 0, it is placed face up in the discard pile.

BATTLE:  Battling other trainers have similar rules to Capturing Pokemon.  Both players choose 1 of their Pokemon, then they play an item.  Afterwards, both players spin.  Any 10 is an instant win for that player, and 0 an instant loss. Compare the total numbers to see who wins.  The player who won gets to take the opposing players Pokemon they battled.  If they only have 1, the player then gives up 20 PC.

GYM BATTLE:  There are also Battle Gym Leader Spaces.  Again, battling is similar to Capturing a Pokemon, with the challenging player choosing a Pokemon, and may play an item.  Both players spin and see who wins.  10 is an automatic win, 0 an automatic loss.  If you win, gain 2 Pokemon cards, and the gym leader goes out of play.  If you lose, you give up 20 PC to the bank, and the Gym Leader is put at the bottom of the deck.

LEGENDARY:  If you draw or land on a Ruins, you then draw a Pokemon from the Rare Pokemon Pile.  These are usually the Legendary Pokemon from the games, such as Mewtwo, Suicune, or Rayquaza.  In this case, you do not battle with one of your Pokemon, and you cannot use items.  You spin, and if you land on a 6 or 10, you capture that Pokemon. If you spin any other number, the Pokemon goes back into the deck and is shuffled.

CP & GOAL:  If you ever run out of CP, you must draw a Smile Loan card.  This gives you 100 CP, but you lose 120 CP once you reach the goal.  Each player ends up with a set amount of bonus CP depending on when they reached the goal.

CONCLUSION: Regardless of the seemingly complex and intricate detail of the rules, this plays rather simply.  But, is it any fun?  Well, if you want a simple, quick Pokemon themed game, then this game works.  It plays a bit like Game of Life, but with enough differences to make the game stand out, and be it's own thing rather than feel like a re-skin.  It works thematically because it tries to add more than just a different board with different words but the same effects.  The Capturing and Battling system is different, and they work.  Now, is it compelling?  Not really.  The reason why the first Master Trainer works so well is that it feels like you're traveling around and collecting Pokemon to build a strong team and fight the Elite Four.  Sure, it needs some slight polishing, but the length just adds to the experience.  This one just feels like they cut out too much to make it streamlined.  It's not bad, but it lacks in depth the previous one had.  Still, it's nice to pull this one out for a quicker Pokemon themed experience, and this is a must have for every up and coming Pokemon Master.

AFTERTHOUGHTS:  One final thought before I wrap this up is the name.  If you've read this blog before, you'll notice that I reviewed Pokemon: Master Trainer already, but that was a different game.  This version is actually the 3rd of Pokemon: Master Trainer named games.  Now, this is a problem, as that makes it difficult to actually find both this version of the game, as well as the previous version.  This may sound like common knowledge, but DO NOT NAME YOUR GAMES THE SAME THING!  This could have easily been solved with subtitles, such as "Master Trainer: Hoenn Version" or "Master Trainer Advanced".  Imagine if all versions of Munchkin were just called Munchkin.  Yeah, not a good idea.  Even if you only sold a half dozen copies of your game because it was an awful game, you should still title the name slightly different, so this doesn't happen.  It's silly, it's dumb, and it's rude.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

R.I.P. Trevor (The Oregon Trail Card Game)

Dear Diary,
We've been out here for 1 month, but it seems like years since we left Missouri.  Jane seems to have come down with Cholera, and I just know that William will end up pushing our oxen too hard.  We already don't have enough grass for them out here as it is, they'll surely die.  But I have faith we'll make it Willamette Valley, and all of our suffering will be worth it on The Oregon Trail.

BACKGROUND:  The Oregon Trail was a computer game published in 1971 by Broderbund and The Learning Company. The idea was to teach children about the misery and suffering the pioneers went through when traveling west.  The game ended up being a smash hit, spawning four direct sequels, and several remakes.  The objective was to get a small party across the U.S. to Oregon, and in some later games, continue on to Salt Lake.

GAME DESCRIPTION:  The Oregon Trail Card Game is designed for 2-6 players, and published in August of 2016 by Pressman Toy Corp as a Target-exclusive purchase.  Players work together to avoid Calamities and progress to Oregon before every player dies.

SET-UP:  Players may place the starting and ending cards of "Independence, MI" and "Willamette Valley, OR" any distance away to determine game length, with the recommended distance being about 3 feet apart.  All players begin with 5 Trail Cards, and a set of Supply Cards.

TRAIL:  Trail cards are black with green pathways that can lead down the middle, or on the left or right.  Each turn, a player must attempt to play either a card that matches an existing trail, a Town or Fort, or an appropriate Supply card. Trail cards can be played upside down or right side up, but the pathways must line up.  A Town or Fort card can be played along any path, and any path may also be played after a Town or Fort.  There are 3 types of Trail cards: blank, River, and Press Space to Continue (draw a Calamity card).

RIVER:  River cards are a special form of Trail Cards.  When a River card is played, the player rolls the die once, then will follow the cards text.  Any even rolls will allow you to ford the river.  An odd roll will, in most cases, cost you a supply card.  If you roll a 1 on certain cards, you die.

CALAMITY:  Calamity Cards are special cards that are drawn on certain Trail Cards.  These can have varying effects, such as instant death, catching a sickness, having your wagon break down, or go hunting.

SUPPLIES:  Supply cards are used in response to Calamities.  Certain Calamity cards require you to immediately discard or reveal a certain card in your hand to avoid that Calamity.  Other players may also have a chance to discard a Supply card for their turn to help that player out.

PROGRESSION AND DEATH:  When a set of 5 Trail cards are played, stack the cards together with the first Trail card played on top.  This signifies you have completed that part of the trek.  Play continues with the next player, until enough stacks of 5 have reached the end of the trail.  However, if any player dies, their name is placed on a tombstone, and play skips them from now on.  If at least 1 player makes it to the Oregon, then the players win.

CONCLUSION:  This is a brand new game, coming out just a couple weeks ago from when this blog was written.  When looking at a game like this, a few things should be considered.  First, was it thematically strong?  Well, having grown up on these games, I can say that it got the theme down pat.  The cards and rules fit the original game, with unfairness and random chance abounding.  Next, does the game play well, and are the rules written clearly?  Ehh, this could use some improving, especially with the river cards upon first play.  It plays alright, but again, it's REALLY heavy on chance.  Third, was it enjoyable?  I can say, without a doubt, yes.  This is a simple game that ruthlessly plays against you.  There's more strategy then something like Zombie Dice or Loonacy, but that means little when strategy can be thrown out the window for pure luck.  It's a game that, going in, you should expect to lose.  It's a game for the nostalgic that plays pretty well for the asking price, but can frustrate and anger a lot of players.  But, it was definitely enjoyable.  This is a simple party game that is meant to make you laugh at its ridiculousness.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Mercy Never Changes (It Came To Pass)

And so it was written that there would be a game.  A game to bring family together.  A game that would involve counting, indeed, counting!  And this game would need to have strategy, to teach the little children, and train the minds of the people.  And one more thing was needed: This game would require quick reflexes, to train the body of the people.  And so...It Came To Pass.

It Came to Pass

GAME DESCRIPTION:  It Came To Pass is a fast paced card game for 2 to 8 players.  The object of the game is to get the total amount of points in your hand as close to 0.  All points in a players hand are counted against them.  The player with the least amount of points is declared the winner.  The game starts with every player having 6 cards in hand, and flipping 1 card over to start the discard.

PLAYING:  Each turn begins by drawing one card from the deck or top of the discard pile to start the turn, and discarding one.  Each Numerical card in your hand is worth that many points.  Charity cards are worth 0 points.  All cards that match the color of any Charity in your hand are worth 0 points. Desolation cards are worth 25 points, and can only be discarded if the last card is a matching color, or played on a Mercy.

OPTION CARDS:  Every other card is called an Option Card, and can be added in or left out.  Each have their own point value and effect
  • Repentance (20 points):  Reverses the direction of play.
  • Unbelief (20 points):  Skips the next player.
  • Pride Cycle (20 points):  Each player passes 1 card to the next player.
  • Secret Combination (20 points):  The player compares hands with the next player, sets aside one of them, and they now play as a team.  This has no effect if there are only two teams of players or two players.
  • Justice (20 points):  The next player must either play another Justice, a Mercy, or draw cards equal to the amount written on all Justice cards played.
  • Mercy (50 points):  Players race to be the first to play any card, and play continues to the next player of the that player.

THE END:  A round can end in 2 ways; either a player gets their hand down to 0 points, which ends the round instantly, or if a player says "Pass".  If a player Passes, they end their turn, cannot alter it in any way, and play continues until play reaches the player who passed.  If the player who passed has the lowest value, they subtract 20 from their current score.  If another player has the lowest score, the player who passed gains 10 points plus that players score.

CONCLUSION:  Upon first glance, this seems to be a Mormon themed Uno, but don't discount it.  The unique take on "forcing" teams and rushing to play on a Mercy adds a quickness that I found lacking in regular Uno.  The game plays well, even if a bit rough with the Mercy that, let's face it, adds a mechanic that can easily be seen unfair to slower players.  The game still plays quick outside of that, and flows in a way a lot of mainstream card games never really seemed to grasp.  For a fast action Game Night, a Family Home Evening, or just having some quick fun with a group of like minded fellows, It Came To Pass is worth trying out.